It's pretty obvious that Roman's is just doing a soft opening, but that didn't stop the husband and I from hustling right over last weekend to check it out. I'm calling this post a "preview" as opposed to a "review," since it's really just first impressions.
First of all, it was awfully strange to get a table immediately on a Saturday night in this small and formerly bustling space. Obviously there's no signage up yet, but I'm used to sitting on the window ledge drinking margaritas for awhile.
A few small interior changes have been made - the wall behind the bar has been been completely redesigned and restocked, new light fixtures have been added and a decorative wall was erected between the dining room and kitchen.
The menu, for now, is pretty bare bones. It's small plates, and it needs explanation / guidance from the wait staff.
It's a small-plates setup, which often ends up in a trial-and-error ordering experiment. (How many plates do we need? Are we going to be stuffed or left hungry?). We started with the "heirloom radish," which consisted of a chopped radish and a few other radish-like roots, salted and served with creme fraiche. It was light and fresh, though a few bites were oversalted and others were not salted enough.
For second courses, we split the sauerkraut soup and the panette. Both were delicious. The soup was well-favored without being sour, and included a delicious bite of some sort of meat (pork?) and an egg. The panette, small penne pasta, was served with a delicious sauce and toasted pine nuts.
Our third course was a stuffed meatball. Delicious, but small.
For dessert we went with the dark chocolate, assuming it would be some sort of torte. But in actuality, it was a pile of dark chocolate with some almonds. For $6. I looked at Will and said, "This is good chocolate, but it's... a pile of chocolate."
I'm really interested to see how Roman's develops. I was unable to get a good grasp of the vibe they were going for. Partly, it seemed to be trying to mimic the trendy 1920s thing that's been pervading popular culture these past few years. But the cuisine suggests otherwise. The bill was fairly pricey for the quantity, but I'm game to go back once they have a regular, full menu (and they are already taking credit cards).
If you're wondering about the name, it's clearly a reference to Rome, Italy. Not only is the food described by the waitstaff as being Italian-influenced, but the outside of the menus feature an illustration of two infants being suckled by a wolf. My renaissance-literature-professor husband informed me that it was a depiction of Romulus and Remus. (Romulus was, according to Roman mythology, the first King of Rome).